By John Polasek
When I signed up on-line at the Timber Framer’s Guild (TFG) website as a volunteer on the project, I really had no idea what to expect.
I had been on the initial planning for the Pavilion project as a member of the Vicksburg Lions Club, but there’s a big step between preliminary planning, sketches, and the assembly and constructing of this amazing structure.
I thought I would be picking up trash and/or in some way taking care of the needs of these expert Timber Framers so they could complete their work.
But I was able, as were a number of other volunteers, to learn about the craft by actual hands-on work. The TFG is dedicated to the propagation of the art of old-time mortis and tenon framing. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget, and I feel I have made friends for life with people I worked alongside during this project.
I was humbled by the dedication of the Timber Framers to this project, and their knowledge of their art. I was humbled by the organization skills, and patience to teach others their craft. We worked 10-hour days and at times they also worked into the evening. The Timber Framers had such a passion for their work that they frequently did not want to stop for meals. They were just so focused on their work and did not want to leave something undone. For me, it was so motivating that I tried to stay with them as much as I could. But I was 30 years older than most of them, and not used to this kind of physical work.
I learned so much about the craft because they wanted me to learn and develop the same passion they have.
I can look, as other volunteers can, at that structure and know what braces I made, what posts I did joinery on, what pegs I drove in, and especially the assembly of the trusses. Our community’s response to this project was amazing. Not only because of the wonderful meals (the crew said they have never eaten so well anywhere), but by the way the Timber Framers were recognized by folks in the community.
The framers said they have never been thanked so much by folks passing by, and people on the street.
It really meant a lot to them, and it made me even prouder of our Vicksburg community. This was truly a special project built by special people for a wonderful community. Thanks.